Venezuela, a team loaded with major league All-Stars, is on the brink of being eliminated from the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Thursday night’s 3-0 loss to the Dominican Republic (box score) dropped Venezuela’s record to 0-2 in Pool F play. The Dominican Republic, meanwhile, improved to 1-1. Both USA and Puerto Rico are 1-0 in Pool F and did not play Thursday.
Thursday’s game remained scoreless until the fifth inning, when Gregory Polanco launched a solo home run to right field to break the 0-0 tie. Up to that point the stacked Dominican Republic lineup had been held to one run in 13 innings in Pool F play, and that one run came on a solo homer Tuesday night in which a fan appeared to reach over the fence. Here is Polanco’s home run:
The Dominican Republic added insurance runs courtesy of Robinson Cano’s two-out RBI single in the seventh inning and Nelson Cruz‘s solo homer in the eighth. Five Dominican Republic relievers (Fernando Abad, Hansel Robles, Dellin Betances, Alex Colome, Jeurys Familia) held Venezuela to four hits and no walks in the final 4 2/3 innings of the game. They struck out eight. Offense has been really hard to come by for all four teams in Pool F. Turns out San Diego’s Petco Park plays even more pitcher friendly in March than it does in the summer months.
Despite Thursday’s loss and their 0-2 record in Pool F, Venezuela is not completely eliminated from the WBC just yet. There is still a sliver of hope they can advance to the semifinals. Here’s what needs to happen over the next few days for Venezuela to stay alive:
- USA beats Puerto Rico on Friday night.
- Venezuela beats Puerto Rico on Saturday afternoon.
USA beats the Dominican Republic on Saturday night.
If all that happens, USA will be 3-0 and clinch a spot in the semifinals. The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela will all be 1-2.would then determine which two teams would play in the tiebreaker game Sunday. The winner of that game would join USA, Japan, and the Netherlands in the semifinals while the loser goes home. Got all that?
So, needless to say, Friday night’s game between USA and Puerto Rico is massive for Venezuela. They would be officially eliminated with a Puerto Rico win because it will guarantee at least two teams will win two games. Venezuela has to hope for the three-team tie scenario at 1-2. Venezuela will be rooting hard for USA on Friday. No doubt..
Japan (6-0) and the Netherlands (4-2) have both already advanced to the semifinals out of Pool E in Tokyo. The two clubs that will advance out of Pool F will be determined this weekend.. The Championship Game will be played next Wednesday, March 22, at Dodger Stadium.